As their off-field battles for the signatures of Serie A defenders Nikola Milenković and Stefan de Vrij as well as Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell intensify, Tottenham and Newcastle are continuing some scraps of their own at opposite ends of the Premier League (PL) table. With no remaining continental or cup engagements for Spurs, they can attack the three-point gap to fourth-placed Arsenal without distraction.
A Cristiano Ronaldo masterclass at Old Trafford is all that stood between Spurs and five consecutive PL wins after they brutally dismantled West Ham United (W 3-1), who themselves were flying high after advancing to the Europa League quarter-finals. Manager Antonio Conte rejoiced at the “great improvement of my team in many aspects” during the international break, and with just two games to come against fellow Champions League aspirants, many opportunities for points will be presented.
Newcastle kept both Chelsea and Everton scoreless for more than 85 minutes only to fall to consecutive 1-0 away defeats prior to their weekend off, with head coach Eddie Howe insisting his team have “plenty of work to do” despite their nine-point buffer from the relegation zone at the start of the round.
All but one of their PL away points this season have been earned at clubs in the bottom half of the standings going into the weekend, including five 2+ goal losses away to the top ten teams. So whilst the ‘Magpies’ have taken points from almost half of their PL fixtures as visiting underdogs (W3, D4, L8), the story of their season has been that conquering the more difficult away trips – at least on paper – has persistently been a climb they cannot conquer, although a record of just two league defeats at Spurs in seven trips offers hope (W4, D1).
Players to watch: Star striker Harry Kane has scored in three of his last five meetings with Newcastle, including two doubles, whilst Newcastle midfielder Joelinton has scored the opener with both of his previous strikes against Tottenham.
Hot stat: Both teams have completed at least 18 consecutive PL matches without a 0-0 draw.
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